For any number of reasons, I'm feeling more reflective as 2012 seems to hurdle to an end (can you believe it'll be OCTOBER tomorrow?!).
September is particularly meaningful. Five years ago in September, we lost my oldest son in a senseless domestic violence incident. Five years ago in September I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
But there are more pleasant reasons to be reflective in September...
In September 1982, I was installed as the pastor of New Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church. Suffice it to say my life has never been the same.
In an afternoon service I responded officially to the call of this comparatively small South Dallas congregation to serve as their leader. At 25, I only thought I knew what that meant. I have to confess, that although I've been gone for eight years now, I'm still learning what that means.
A pastorate that started out fairly traditional (what I did that my peers would call 'progressive' were merely baby steps toward the 21st century), would end with pastor and people obtaining a reputation for social engagement, community engagement and transformational worship and fellowship. But that day, was special.
Both my maternal grandparents, Rev. and Mrs. L.J. Batty were there (my grandfather preached the service); my maternal grandmother, Mrs. Fannie Britt was there - the first time I ever remember all three of them being together. The churches which nurtured my all of my life were there, my grandfather's church, Shady Grove Baptist Church, where I'd been a member practically all of my life and my father, Rev. Gerald Britt, Sr.'s church, Memorial Baptist were there. My uncle Clarence Evans, who pastors Hopewell Baptist Church in Dennison, Texas, was also there. Rev. J.R. Allen, founder and moderator of the True Fellowship District Association of which New Mount Moriah was a leading congregation, was there, as was his church, Allen Chapel B.C., as well as the Vice-Moderator, George Jackson, who pastored Zion Baptist Church in Rowlett, Texas.
All these men, except my uncle and Pastor Jackson, who suffers from Alzheimer's, are dead now. And, of course, a number of the members of the church are no longer with us. But in choosing me as pastor, they made a statement of confidence and a willingness to grow with me that I have never taken lightly.
After this investiture, I was now what I had wanted to be all of my life and I could imagine nothing more.
Talk about God having a sense of humor!
But I will forever be grateful for the members of this church who thought enough of me, that they believed that God had called me to serve them in a role of such great responsibility. Especially as the church was still grieving for our previous pastor and my predecessor. No matter the doubts, mixed motives and uncertainty, we learned to respect, appreciate and, most importantly love one another.
And I and my family, love them still.
Had it not been for their confidence in me and the opportunity God gave us all, I would not have had some amazing experiences, met an array of wonderful people and had the chance to be a part of a wonderful team like CitySquare.
I wasn't sure what going to New Mount Moriah as an associate minister would mean in August 1981. I had ideas, but no idea (if you know what I mean). I could not have conceived of being where I am 30 years from that day in 1982 (I didn't even know what a 'non-profit' was in those days). But I believed at each point that I was following God.
Things haven't always been smooth, but they sure have been exciting!
Thanks be to God!
Thanks for a wife and children that have been brave enough to follow, as I followed.
Thanks to the members of New Mount Moriah, for helping to make be what I am today!